Even though, there is increased awareness on environmental health matters over the last decades, environmental pollution still poses health challenges for the nursing profession. Nursing professionals have the burden of dealing with environmental related illnesses with regards guidance, treatment and provision of information to patients. However, few health care practitioners receive training on environmental health. But, there has been a shift towards integrating environmental related issues in the nursing profession by taking into account the effect of the environment on the health status of patients. Nursing professionals are taking steps to bridge the gap on environmental health through education and sensitization on environmental health hazards. These measures also include communicating to the communities, since the members expect nurses to offer guidance on how to reduce the risk of environmental hazards.
Florence Nightingale’s contribution to the field of nursing and particularly on the impact of the environment provides insights on the relation between the environment and health. Though, there is no specific theory that guides nurses, the writings of Nightingale led to the call for the development of professional practices that could be adhered to by all nursing professionals. In her writing, Nightingale focused on the role of an appropriate environment in facilitating the recovery of patients. Thus, the interaction of self care, the environment and nursing profession were all relevant to the recovery process. Essentially, there is a need to minimize environmental health hazards and provide hygienic conditions for patients.
International treaties mostly focus on the physical impact of war on the environment and people, but fail to address the issue of environmental degradation occasioned by war. Thus, there is a need to institute stiff penalties in these agreements with regards to the consequences of chemical warfare and bombing. On the other hand, the nursing profession needs to sensitize the communities more often on the need to minimize environmental pollution because this affects the health status. Nursing professional bodies can also liaise with government institutions in there quest to ensure that there is environmental protection particularly on air pollution and water quality.